This Week in Anime
Why Dr. Stone's Village Arc is The Best Yet

by Nicholas Dupree & Steve Jones,

Dr. Stone has taken his science up a notch as our boy Senku continues his quest to build a kingdom Albert Einstein would be proud of. The series' Village Arc introduces an array of outlandish allies and villains and Nick and Steve are here to break down why we can't help but love this edutainment anime.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


Nick
Alright Steve, let me ask you a question: Are you
ready
TO ROCK?
Steve
Why yes, I am very ready for a new season of Land of the Lustrous, but absent that, I'm also ready to talk about other anime featuring different minerals.

But hell yeah, it's time to get down and dirty again with Dr. Stone, also known as the Bill Nye/Flintstones crossover nobody ever knew they wanted.
Right off the bat, quite a bit has happened since last time we all got stoned, with plenty of surprises along the way. For instance, I certainly wasn't expecting we'd get so intimately familiar with Senku's dick.
Oh right. Y'know it says something about how quickly Dr. Stone moves that I actually forgot about the couple of episodes where our protagonist was kind of dead.
I mean he got better!
True, but usually that'd be a big and memorable part of a story, but here it's more the starting point of the real Dr. Stone, where once Taiju and Yuzuriha revive him, Senku parts ways with them on a big old plan to conquer the world with SCIENCE.
Yeah, going into the series blind, I had no idea it was going to take this turn and basically introduce a brand new cast halfway through the season. It works though! It's a bold move, and like you said, it's been barreling through tons of SCIENCE since then with no signs of stopping.
I get the impression Riichiro Inagaki realized a few chapters in that while Taiju and Yuzuriha are nice enough kids, they're also a little too subdued to really bounce of Senku's more powerful personality. So they're off to do their own thing while Mr. Science gets to make new friends with the citizens of Bedrock.

Like Kohaku!
The new kids on the rock are definitely a lot more dynamic, although I wish I could say the same about Boichi's female character designs.
Boichi is great when he has to draw weird, grotesque, or bizarre facial features. But he has exactly 1 "cute" face and he'll put it on every girl he can get away with.
I love him and his weird experimental phases

I know the show is about Science, but this is Art to me
So long as this Dr. Stone/Big Mouth mashup stays in the hypothetical I'll accept it.
But anyway, questionable facial structure aside, Kohaku is immediately a fun and boisterous character, and I love that her first interaction with Senku involves her being very calm about having an entire tree on her.

That's a 2019 mood. Gotta look on the bright side sometimes.
It's a solid introduction that establishes why she'd trust a random stranger she just watched come back from the dead! And it's all derived from Dr. Stone's shonen-as-hell outlook on science: it's not just about being smart, it's about being dedicated and patient to do things right.
I also appreciate them immediately trashing any chance of romantic tension between the two. Senku works much better as VolCel.
I hate the way you said that but I can't disagree. That attitude towards science also shines through Senku's dynamic with our new secondary protagonist, Chrome.

Chrome is just a delight.
Like it would have been very easy for the story to use Chrome solely as the backwards wannabe-scientist who just tags along as an assistant to the genius Senku. And there are shades of that played for comedy at first, but really their relationship develops to be on much more equal footing, with the two of them working together and helping each other out in tandem.

Chrome is where the Village Arc also starts doing some of its thematic leg work. While Tsukasa, our villain, isn't on screen for any of this, Senku's adventures with the villagers continually work to rebuke his whole idea of an "unsullied" world. For instance, even if he were to kill Senku, that wouldn't suddenly snuff out humanity's curiosity and ability to learn about the world around them.
There will always be Chromes in the world.
There's always gonna be a weird guy living by himself and collecting cool rocks. That's what science is all about, baby.
Chrome and Kohaku also offer a better look at an aspect of Senku we didn't get to see before. Namely that he's kind of a scumbag when it suits him.
It's such a good part of his character too! I love this scoundrel boy with a heart of gold who gets very excited about varying strengths of acid.

It's a key part of why he works as the "hero" of the story too! A more traditionally noble shonen protag might feel too corny with all the edutainment vibes, but with Senku we get stuff like winning over the locals with a stone-age ramen cart so he can get their help literally pumping iron.
To also use bigger words: there's an intrinsic childishness to the pursuit of science that Senku's unrepentant and gleeful manipulations embody in a consistently funny way. And, yes, sometimes that means making bad ramen to pick up girls.

Like I said: Senku is VolCel.
I dunno, those are pretty advanced tastes if you ask me.
That said, while Senku can be a slimeball, the show's careful to keep his goals noble. Like his first quest upon finding the village is to literally save a life. That counts for a lot.
Oh for sure! The show is also really good about humanizing Senku, which is one of the bigger worries I had going into it. Making him this infallible super genius would have gotten pretty boring eventually, but one of my favorite scenes in the show is actually about him getting something completely wrong, and graciously accepting it.


It's also a really powerful moment thematically, because science isn't about being smart as much as it's about figuring out all the ways you're dumb and fixing those. Keeping an open and humble mind is so important.
A show that's so much about science would easily fall into a Neil Degrasse Tyson shaped pit of mistaking pedantry for inquisitiveness, so I really appreciate that Dr. Stone takes great pains to remind us of the humanity that drives discovery and invention.
Like when Senku helps out my wonderful daughter Suika.
My precious blind watermelon daughter.
I love her and if anything ever happens to her I will fly to Japan and personally kick Inagaki and Boichi in the nuts.
Agreed. And the anime nails this moment. It's just quiet, sublime, and beautiful in the exact way it needs to be.

The show may be called Dr. Stone, but it's got a warm and beating heart.
It's phenomenal moment that hits all the harder because I've been there. While it was far more mundane, getting my first prescription lenses as a kid was like seeing the world for the first time again. And it means all the more to Suika because until Senku arrived it wasn't something she'd have ever known about.
I've had glasses since the fourth grade, so it really hit me right in that tender spot too. As did this face.
She's beautiful just the way she is.
Speaking of beautiful, I'm glad we have anime like Dr. Stone around to answer tough hypotheticals like "what if sulfuric acid had boobs?"
Oh, if we're just kink-shaming Ginro for being horny over acid now I'm here for it.
No shame here. Chase your sinewy bliss, bro.
It's perhaps an odd choice to make a gijinka of a deadly chemical, but H2SO4-chan is certainly a fun visual aid for what would otherwise be an invisible and static threat.
Story time: this obviously isn't as bad a goof (because I'm still alive), but I'm gonna out myself as Bad Scientist here—I once took a big whiff of concentrated hydrochloric acid by mistake. I don't ever want my nose to feel like that again. Always waft, kids. And for the love of the hot sulfuric acid gijinka, label your bottles.
In real life you won't get a cool bonding moment over it like Chrome and Senku. At best you'll get to test out the eye-washers first hand.
Yes, always follow proper safety gowning and procedures when gathering dangerous chemicals.
I dig that speech from Chrome though. It's another humbling moment for Senku, where he's pushed to realize he's better off asking for help than trying to make a fail-safe if he dies on his own. That it helps tie into Kohaku's own issues is a bonus.
It's another great character moment that ties perfectly into the thematic thrust as well—science is heavily collaborative, and if you try to do everything on your own, you're not going to get very far and/or you might fall into a pool of sulfuric acid. We gotta have each other's backs.
I also like Old Man Kaseki's speech to Ginro about the whole endeavor.
It is just The Most Shonen thing and I eat it up like questionable ramen.

Hey I'll trust anything buff grandpa says. You don't get this cool by accident

I know he's meant to be aping the classic look of fantasy Dwarves but there's just something so charming about this tiny, absolutely ripped old guy asking the whippersnappers if they even lift.
He rules. And again! Even though he knows nothing about science, he still has skills and expertise that are invaluable to Senku's plan to create sulfa drugs. It's important that his Kingdom of Science isn't a Kingdom of Scientists. It's a place that needs a diversity of skills and people, like any good and thriving community.
It takes all types to build a kingdom. You need folks who are brave like Kohaku, curious like Chrome, seasoned like Kaseki, and full of total shit like Gen.
Well he certainly is right about some things.

Also, despite my earlier criticisms of Boichi, he knows how to draw an extremely punchable face.
And Inagaki is still a master at making totally smarmy characters fun to follow. Gen's a total louse from the moment he enters the show, but he's just so fun when he does it I can never hold it against him.
There's def something to be said for a guy who has no pretensions about what he is. Gen is here to manipulate people and drink cola, and the world is fresh outta cola.
That cola bit is amazing. Gen says he's superficial and he's both right and wrong. He's right in that he sells out Tsukasa for a hypothetical bottle of coke. But he's wrong because he sells out Tsukasa for a hypothetical bottle of coke and that takes some immense chutzpa.
As far as "bad" guys go, he's a heck of a lot better and more interesting that this toad.
Listen Steve, in the stone world it's survival of the fittest. Magma earned the right to be this arc's villain after he (sort of) killed Gen.
Magma's just kind of a comically evil villain when compared to the more thoughtful antagonists we've seen. But that certainly didn't make this week's showdown between him and Chrome any less exciting. Building an action scene around crying into a glasses lens is just exquisite storytelling.
Magma works as a repudiation of the kind of world Tsukasa looks to be building. He's a selfish, incurious lout who gets by because he lives in a society that values raw physical prowess above all else and was lucky enough to be born without a condition that could hamper that. Which is why it's so satisfying when Kinro puts on Suika's glasses-helmet and just whoops him. In a world where science and collaboration can level the playing field, Magma's far more useless than he thinks.
In the words of the great Bill Nye: Science rules.
If Kinro weren't such a stickler for rules he would have won handily, but thankfully that just means we get to see Chrome use the ultimate shonen super power: determination.
I seriously love this big shonen climax revolving around a dude just trying to hold a stick steady enough to set his opponent's clothes on fire, done with all the passion and long-winded commentary we'd expect from the genre. It works way too well.
My favorite part is that they include Chrome getting a big cartoon lightbulb when he has the idea. Only since he's only seen Senku's stone age lightbulb.
This is such good cartoons
Also I like that it reminds me of my all-time favorite moment in all of Dr. Stone. This short speech about "conquering the night" gives me chills every time.

Dr. Stone puts a lot of care into making these moments feel powerful and sincere, and they're definitely the highlight of the show. Science is our candle in the dark, figuratively and literally, and Senku's journey towards restoring that light has been a wonderful one so far. That said, I also respect Dr. Stone's decision to balance these beautiful moments with frequent piss and fart jokes.
If laughing at Ginro getting the runs after trying caffeine for the first time is wrong I don't want to be right.
But it's that mix of juvenile energy and (mostly) grounded science that makes Dr. Stone so special. It wears its heart on its sleeve as much as My Hero Academia or One Piece, but channels it all into a subject that all too often can feel cold and sterile in media.
It has a passion about science that comes through in a warm Carl Sagan-esque way, and I think that's a rare and special thing.
It's super charming and I imagine a lot of kids watching this could really get into science from it. Just try to follow better safety precautions, children.
And, uh, don't try everything you see on TV.

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